Psychological outcomes in children following pediatric intensive care unit hospitalization: a systematic review of the research

J Child Health Care. 2009 Jun;13(2):128-49. doi: 10.1177/1367493509102472.


A systematic review of published research on children's psychological outcomes following Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) hospitalization was conducted. Of the 275 papers published between 1970 and April 2008 which were identified using keywords, reference lists and one author's collections, a total of 28 papers met the inclusion criteria for this review. The papers fell into four categories based on the focus of the research: (1) children's PICU perceptions and recall; (2) children's psychological outcomes, broadly defined; (3) post-traumatic stress responses; and (4) general health status and quality of life. The findings suggest that PICU hospitalization can result in negative psychological sequelae in children, which can manifest themselves up to one year post-discharge. While a small number of studies have attempted to identify predictors of psychological outcome, this work remains in its infancy. The importance of the child's interpretation of the illness experience in influencing subsequent behavioral and emotional responses is highlighted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Hospitalized / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Critical Illness / psychology*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric*
  • Mental Recall
  • Quality of Life
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology